Dypsis lutescens grows 6–12 m (20–39 ft) in height. Multiple stems emerge from the base. The leaves are arched, 2–3 m (6 ft 7 in–9 ft 10 in) long, and pinnate, with 40-60 pairs of leaflets. It bears panicles of yellow flowers in summer. Offsets can be cut off when mature enough, as a propagation method.
It is grown as an ornamental plant in gardens in tropical and subtropical regions, and elsewhere indoors as a house plant. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
One of several common names, "butterfly palm" refers to the leaves which curve upwards in multiple stems to create a butterfly look.
In its introduced range, this plant acts as a supplier of fruit to some bird species which feed on it opportunistically, such as Pitangus sulphuratus, Coereba flaveola and Thraupis sayaca species in Brazil.
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